The iron fist of the Chinese Communist Party has prompted a wave of Hong Kongers to flee the city. After the Hong Kong Protest 2019, political suppression shows no sign of decline. Police brutality, indiscriminate arrest and prosecution have eroded Hong Kongers’ confidence in the authority. According to the opinion poll conducted by Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute in December 2021, 50% of the interviewee expressed distrust in the Hong Kong Government.
On 30 June 2020, Bejing imposed the draconian National Security Law on the city, which fundamentally altered life for Hong Kongers. It adopts universal definitions for crimes such as subversion, secession, and collusion with foreign powers. Some protestors leave to escape from imprisonment. Some others leave because they are pessimistic about Hong Kong’s future. They are similar to their predecessors who left China in 1949 when the Communists came to power.
Taiwan is one of the choices. According to Taiwan’s official figures, 12389 and 11299 Hong Kongers were granted residency in 2022 and 2021, respectively. The interviewees in this story are either staying in Taiwan, or passer-bys to Western countries. The most disheartening is the deterioration of their native land seems to be no end in sight. In 2021, more than 50 civil society organizations have been shut down, including political parties, labor unions, and media outlets. People staying are either self-censored or punished.
The interviewees in this story re-examine their self-identity while facing alienation in a strange environment. What are the substances they value? Hong Kongers enjoy freedom, stand on their dignity and are used to express themselves. When Thomas Mann, the Nobel Prize Winner for literature was expelled from Nazi Germany, he said, “German Culture is where I am,” while acknowledging America was his new home. Hong Kongers are struggling to turn the bitter experience of exile into synergy in their new life.